by Sajjad Shaukat
New debate has started in our media, after the statement of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who said on November 5 that no individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest, adding that armed forces draw their strength from the public support. Therefore, any effort which draws a wedge between the people and armed forces of Pakistan undermines the larger national interest.
He explained, “As a nation, we are passing through a defining phase. We are critically looking at the mistakes made by all of us in the past and trying to set the course for a better future…striving for the rule of law…no one is guilty until proven.”
He further stated, “We all agree that strengthening the institutions, ensuring the rule of law and working within the bounds of the constitution is the right way…conspiracy theories based on rumours which create doubts about the very intent, are unacceptable.”
Earlier to the statement of Gen. Kayani, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry stated on the same day that the Supreme Court has ultimate jurisdiction and as a protector of the constitution, a heavy responsibility lies upon its judges to uphold the constitutional predominance and its supremacy over all other institutions and authorities.
Chief Justice elaborated, “Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks. Today, the concept of national security has been redefined as a polity wherein a state is bound to provide its citizens with overwhelming, social security and welfare.”
He further said, “The present day Supreme Court has been restored to its original position by unprecedented struggle of lawyers, students, media persons and civil society.”
Like Gen. Kayani, he also pointed out, “This judiciary has been trying to rewrite the history of the country by not only atoning sins of the past but also setting up new precedents ensuring rule of law and fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution. But, during a hearing on the media’s role, Chief Justice again remarked on November 6 that no one should be mistaken as the final decision lay with the Supreme Court.
In this respect, political experts and defence analysts have opined that Gen. Kayani did not name the Supreme Court, but his statement was about the latter and media which have perennially been distorting the image of Pakistan’s Security forces and its intelligence agencies. However, these statements need realistic analysis in accordance with the ground realities.
Since the apex court has been taking notice of various cases, without grasping realities, our politicians and media have manipulated every issue and case like the Memogate case, Mehrangate verdict, NRO case, missing persons of Balochistan, law and order situation in Karachi, military operation in North Waziristan, incident of Malala Yousafzai etc., to tarnish country’s key security intuitions, and by creating a rift between Pak Army and general masses. The leaders of the PML (N), Jamat-i-Islami and PTI have perennially been criticising the Pak Army and ISI to increase their vote bank by misguiding the common men. While our media anchors and so-called human rights groups also disrepute country’s security agencies by manipulating one or the other issue. In these terms, political leaders become unintentional victim—benefiting the external plotters, while some of our media commentators are on the payroll of anti-Pakistan powers.
Particularly, corruption of our politicians has exposed on October 19, this year when in its judgment in the Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the government to take action against former Army Chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig and former Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen. Asad Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among anti-PPP politicians in the 1990 elections. But the Court left it to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate investigation against all the politicians who received money. In this context, Imran Khan remarked on October 19 that all these politicians will become innocent through a bribery-deal with the FIA. In these terms, the Court has indirectly taken a lenient view of the political leaders, especially Nawaz Sharif of PML-N who had played a leading role in restoring the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his present seat.
Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on October 31 issued summons to three retired generals, namely, Lt. Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi, Lt. Gen. Saeeduz Zafar and Maj-Gen. Hassan Butt for accusing them of illegally sanctioning railway property to the ‘Royal palm golf club’, which resulted in losses of billions of rupees to the Pakistan Railways.
On the other hand, Gen. Kayani did not interfere in these cases, relating to army, but recently, made a new precedent in the history of Pakistan by taking action against the three high-ranked officers of the National Logistic Cell (NLC), namely, Lt-Gen. Khalid Munir Khan, Lt-Gen. (r) M. Afzal Muzzafar and Maj-Gen. (r) Khalid Zaheer Akhtar who have been accused of being involved in a multi-billion scam and have been taken back in active service so that they may face court martial.
Instead of appreciating Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, our internal entities are creating stereotypes among the general masses regarding the Pak Army. They have also been raising false allegations of corruption against the Army as an institution. But, fact is that if any army soldier involves himself in any such malpractice, it is his individual act.
As regards the Supreme Court, while hearing petition regarding deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan, the Court on October 31 declared that Balochistan government lost its authority in the province. In this regard, during a number of subsequent hearings, the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry held ISI, Military Intelligence (MI) and Frontier Corps (FC) responsible for extra-judicial killings and missing persons of Balochistan. And he also agreed with Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, the head of the Balochistan National Party who raised similar false allegations. Chief Justice ordered that all the disappeared people should be produced before the court, military operation in the province should be stopped and proxy death squads formed by the ISI and MI should be disbanded.
But, the federal government and the armed forces in a joint statement to the Supreme Court rejected all these misperceptions.
In this respect, the honourable Chief Justice and other internal entities of Pakistan must know that the reality behind the worsening circumstances and the missing people of Balochistan is that secret agencies like CIA, RAW and Mossad which have well-established their collective network in Afghanistan are in collusion, and have perennially been supporting bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups such as Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers), and other Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) to dismember Pakistan for their strategic designs. Their subversive activities have resulted in missing persons in Balochistan, for which BLA and other separatist groups have claimed responsibility.
Unilateral approach of the present apex court could also be judged from the fact that on November 1, while resuming the hearing of Karachi law and order case, the Court said that it would be better, if the rangers are sent to borders and money should be spent on police performance in the city.
Besides, Supreme Court conducted the case of contempt of court against the ex-Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani regarding NRO in relation to writing a letter to the Swiss authorities. But Gilani refused it as he could not do it in accordance with the constitution. Nevertheless, the Court passed a verdict against him, while parliament is supreme, which could supersede the order of the Supreme Court. In this context, on November 6, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira stated “No doubt, the Supreme Court is the apex court, but when we talk about supreme institution, the parliament is the supreme institution as per the constitution.” Besides, PPP leader advocate Babar Awan also became the target of contempt of court.
Here, question arises as to why no contempt of court was launched against the counsel for former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqanim, Asma Jahangir who said on December 30, 2011 about apex court’s order that it was a dark day for the judiciary, and she was forced to think that whether it was the judiciary of the people.
Nevertheless, it is due to the phenomena created by the Supreme Court, some irresponsible politicians and media anchors that they themselves including general masses have forgotten the services of the Pak Army during floods—particularly during the Earthquake of 2005, entailing restoration of law and order, resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on a number of occasions and so on. Notably, during his regime, when WAPDA was going to bankrupt, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited the army to manage its affairs. By collecting revenue on electricity bills, army’s personal saved WAPDA from bankruptcy.
Besides, Pak Army ejected the Taliban from Swat, Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas through military operations. Even, now these forces are coping with the Taliban in some tribal areas by sacrificing their own lives for the security of the country. In Balochistan, Army established a number of schools and colleges including technical institutes, while providing military training to the Baloch people to bring them in the mainstream of the country. Notably, ISI have captured many militant commanders, foreign agents, and thwarted the subversive acts through pre-arrests of terrorists.
Gen. Kayani who is still acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs stated on December 23, 2011, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” While stressing upon national unity, Gen. Kayani explained on June 9, 2011, “Any effort to create division between important institutions of the country is not in national interest…the people of Pakistan whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.” Recently, he repeated similar views about speculations of military operation in North Waziristan.
At this critical hour, Pakistan has been facing multiple crises of grave nature, and subversive activities supported by the foreign-backed insurgents. So, instead of distorting the image of security forces in the tone of anti-Pakistan external elements, our political parties, media, NGOs and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who is, indirectly, encouraging these entities through his partiality are suggested to show realistic approach by creating selfless unity among the security forces, politicians and people.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations